We returned from a great family vacation almost a month ago and I’ve been digging out from a big post-vacation workload. About two weeks ago, things really caught up with me and my regular coaching session turned into crisis management. My mind felt like I had a bouncing ball inside it – I was flitting from task to task, my regular system was not up to date, I was working non-stop with no breaks and I was battling regular headaches – a sure sign of being overly stressed for me. When I reached out to my coach, De, for help, she helped me take a step back to look at what was going on and also to get back to my regular habits of work and stress management.
At the heart of it, even though work was certainly busier than usual, I had gotten away from all of the things that keep me sane and help me manage my stress. The first thing we did was to take some non-essential tasks off my plate. These tasks were items that had been on my “to do” list, but weren’t critical and by giving myself permission to put these tasks off, I felt my mind begin to calm down. Then, we spent some time talking about how to take care of my brain and how to give it the care and support it needed. This involved getting back to my meditations and regular breaks away from work – two things I’ve found critical to maintaining my sanity. Finally, we decided to come up with a “grounding” reminder mantra that would help start off my day on the right foot – something to keep that bouncing ball from even getting started. I’ve always loved Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata and the two passages below seemed like a good reminder for my morning mantra:
Be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the
universe, no less than
the trees and the stars.
In the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
I made this into a small graphic that I printed out and put on my bathroom mirror so I see it first thing. Click the graphic to see the full-size version for printing.
I’ve also been listening to this grounding meditation. If you’ve got Amazon Prime, you can listen to it for free as part of your Prime membership.
Starting my day off with the Desiderata mantra and then getting back to my usual habits of meditation and regular breaks had a nearly instantaneous positive effect on my mental health. My headaches decreased and my productivity increased. I got back to being “me” and I felt grounded and centered. The bouncing ball in my head stopped bouncing and I no longer felt my mind moving from task to task without focus.
The work itself didn’t disappear… my to do list is always growing, but these little changes helped me manage how I deal with a large workload and the stress that accompanies it.